Three innovations address the needs of the medical world with regard to microfluidic manipulation and testing of physiological samples in ways that can benefit point-of-care needs for patients such as premature infants, for which drawing of blood for continuous tests can be life-threatening in their own right, and for expedited results. A chip with sample injection elements, reservoirs (and waste), droplet formation structures, fluidic pathways, mixing areas, and optical detection sites, was fabricated to test the various components of the microfluidic platform, both individually and in integrated fashion. The droplet control system permits a user to control droplet microactuator system functions, such as droplet operations and detector operations. Also, the programming system allows a user to develop software routines for controlling droplet microactuator system functions, such as droplet operations and detector operations. A chip is incorporated into the system with a controller, a detector, input and output devices, and software. A novel filler fluid formulation is used for the transport of droplets with high protein concentrations. Novel assemblies for detection of photons from an on-chip droplet are present, as well as novel systems for conducting various assays, such as immunoassays and PCR (polymerase chain reaction). The lab-on-a-chip (a.k.a., lab-on-a-printed-circuit board) processes physiological samples and comprises a system for automated, multi-analyte measurements using sub-microliter samples of human serum. The invention also relates to a diagnostic chip and system including the chip that performs many of the routine operations of a central labbased chemistry analyzer, integrating, for example, colorimetric assays (e.g., for proteins), chemiluminescence/fluorescence assays (e.g., for enzymes, electrolytes, and gases), and/or conductometric assays (e.g., for hematocrit on plasma and whole blood) on a single chip platform.